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Association of Universities: a modern EU should invest more in research and innovation

The EU should invest a larger share of its budget in outstanding research and innovation. This is the key message the Association of Universities in the Netherlands puts forward regarding the new European research programme FP9. Additional investments are crucial given the major social and economic challenges facing Europe and the ambition to maintain Europe’s position as a global scientific leader. Pieter Duisenberg, the President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) said: ‘The new Framework Programme FP9, the successor to Horizon 2020, provides the perfect opportunity to realise that ambition.’
In addition to making a case for a larger budget, the VSNU raises six other key points in the position paper. The continuation of the success of the current research programme hinges on the EU’s continued focus on excellence: this should be the No. 1 criterion on which research proposals should be assessed. In addition, the VSNU makes several proposals aimed at increasing the impact of research. For example, there must be greater commitment to the fields of open data, open access and open science at a European level.
Scientific breakthroughs are impossible to achieve without fundamental research. As such, the new Framework Programme must once again accommodate this type of research to a significant extent. The VSNU would also welcome a research programme that stimulates an interdisciplinary approach, something which is desperately needed given the complex nature of the current scientific, economic and social issues. In addition, the VSNU is calling for measures that result in an increase of the acceptance rates. Universities also feel strongly that greater efforts must be made to close the gap between European regions that lead in terms of innovation and those that lag behind. This could achieved, for example, with European Structural Funds.
The European research programme is highly significant to the Netherlands and its universities: the current programme, Horizon 2020, results in the Netherlands receiving nearly €600 million each year for outstanding research with a significant scientific, social or economic impact. The European Commission most likely will produce proposals for the new Framework Programme this spring, which is set to enter into force in 2021.


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Liselotte de Langen

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